[Abstract + References] Art as a Therapeutic Tool in Depressive Disorders: a Systematic Review of the Literature


Different alternative forms of therapy have been studied in relation to their applicability and effectiveness. The use of art therapy in the treatment of depressive disorder is an example frequently employed in several countries. The aim of this research was to identify and discuss which artistic techniques have been applied most frequently in the treatment of depressive disorders and what their main effects are. The research was conducted in the MEDLINE/PubMed, American Psychological Association (APA) and Web of Science databases. The articles were selected through the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA protocol). 14 articles were selected, among which the main techniques of art therapy used were: manual work (drawing, painting, and modeling), music, poetry, photography, theater and contemplation of art pieces. It was found that most of the researches are European and as a field of knowledge they depart mainly from medicine. Of the 14 researches of this review, only two failed in the use of art therapy techniques as a therapeutic tool. It can be understood that art therapy is a safe and reliable tool for treatment not only of depression but also of other mental disorders.


  1. 1.Marcus M, Yasamy MT, Van Ommeren M, Chisholm D, Saxena S. Depression: A global public health concern. 2012. https://www.who.int/mental_health/management/depression/who_paper_depression_wfmh_2012.pdf. Accessed 24 Jun 2018.
  2. 2.World Health Organization (WHO). The World Health Report 2001. Mental health: new Undertanding, New Hope 2001. https://www.who.int/whr/2001/en/whr01_djmessage_po.pdf. Accessed 20 Jun 2018.
  3. 3.Barros MBDA, Lima MG, Azevedo RCSD, Medina LBDP, Lopes CDS, Menezes PR, et al. Depression and health behaviors in Brazilian adults–PNS 2013. Rev Saude Publica. 2017;51:1–9. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1518-8787.2017051000084.Article Google Scholar 
  4. 4.World Health Organization (WHO). Preventing Suicide: a global imperative. Geneva: World Health Organization. 2014. https://www.who.int/mental_health/suicide-prevention/exe_summary_english.pdf?ua=1. Acessed 30 Jun 2018.
  5. 5.Salum GA, Manfro GG, Cordioli AV. Transtornos de ansiedade. In: Duncan BB, Schmidt M I, Giugliani ERJ, et al editors. Medicina ambulatorial: condutas de atenção primária baseadas em evidência. Porto Alegre: Artmed; 2013. p. 1082–1102.
  6. 6.Ibanez G, Mercedes BP do C, Vedana KGG, Miasso, AI. Adesão e dificuldades relacionadas ao tratamento medicamentoso em pacientes com depressão. Rev Bras Enferm. 2014;67: 556–562. https://doi.org/10.1590/0034-7167.2014670409Article Google Scholar 
  7. 7.Souza MSF, Kopittke L. Adesão ao tratamento com psicofármacos: fatores de proteção e motivos de não adesão ao tratamento farmacológico. Rev APS. 2016;19:361–9.Google Scholar 
  8. 8.Simon M. L’Imagination dans la folie. 1st ed. Anales Medico Psychologiques: France; 1876.Google Scholar 
  9. 9.Jung CG. The practice of psychotherapy. 2th ed. London: Routledge; 1967.Google Scholar 
  10. 10.da Silveira N. O mundo das imagens. 1st ed. Ática: São Paulo; 1992.Google Scholar 
  11. 11.Ciasca EC. Arteterapia e depressão: efeitos da arteterapia como terapia complementar no tratamento da depressão em idosos [dissertation]. São Paulo: University of São Paulo; 2017.Google Scholar 
  12. 12.Mastrominico A, Fuchs T, Manders E, Steffinger L, Hirjak D, Sieber M, et al. Effects of dance movement therapy on adult patients with autism spectrum disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Behav Sci. 2018;8:61–79. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs8070061.Article Google Scholar 
  13. 13.Rolka EJ, Silverman MJ. A systematic review of music and dyslexia. Arts Psychother. 2015;46:24–32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2015.09.002.Article Google Scholar 
  14. 14.Olsson PA. Psychodrama and the treatment of narcissistic and borderline patients. Psychodyn Psychiatry. 2018;46:252–64. https://doi.org/10.1521/pdps.2018.46.2.252.Article PubMed Google Scholar 
  15. 15.Moreira S, Matosinho NPM, Peeters IS. Grupo Terapêutico em Sala de Espera: “Programa Tsurus e As Dobraduras da vida”. Blucher Med Proceed. 2014;1:319. https://doi.org/10.5151/medpro-cihhs-10740.Article Google Scholar 
  16. 16.Lima MV, Guimarães SM. Possibilidades terapêuticas do dançar. Cad Bras Saude Ment. 2014;6:98–127.Google Scholar 
  17. 17.Silveira, L. M., Ribeiro, V. M. B. Grupo de adesão ao tratamento: espaço de “ensinagem” para profissionais de saúde e pacientes. Interface (Botucatu). 2005;9:91–104.Article Google Scholar 
  18. 18.Liberati A, Altman DG, Tetzlaff J, Mulrow C, Gotzsche PC, Ioannidis JPA, et al. The PRISMA statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies that evaluate health care interventions: explanation and elaboration. PLoS Med. 2009;6:777–84. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000100.Article Google Scholar 
  19. 19.Lira SA. Análise de correlação: abordagem teórica e de Construção dos coeficientes com aplicações [dissertation]. Curitiba: Federal University of Paraná; 2004.Google Scholar 
  20. 20.Maroco J, Garcia-Marques T. Qual a fiabilidade do alfa de Cronbach? Questões antigas e soluções modernas. Lab Psicol. 2006;4:65–90.Google Scholar 
  21. 21.Montag C, Haase L, Seidel D, Bayerl M, Gallinat J, Herrmann U, et al. A pilot RCT of psychodynamic group art therapy for patients in acute psychotic episodes: feasibility, impact on symptoms and mentalizing capacity. PLoS One. 2014;9:1–11. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0112348.CAS Article Google Scholar 
  22. 22.Geue K, Richter R, Buttstädt M, Brähler E, Singer S. An art therapy intervention for cancer patients in the ambulant aftercare–results from a non-randomised controlled study. Eur J Cancer Care. 2013;22:345–52. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecc.12037.CAS Article Google Scholar 
  23. 23.Crone DM, O’connell EE, Tyson PJ, Clark-Stone F, Opher S, James DV. ‘Art lift’ intervention to improve mental well-being: an observational study from UK general practice. Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2013;22:279–86. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1447-0349.2012.00862.x.Article PubMed Google Scholar 
  24. 24.Lefèvre C, Ledoux M, Filbet M. Art therapy among palliative cancer patients: aesthetic dimensions and impacts on symptoms. Palliat Support Care. 2016;14:376–80. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1478951515001017.Article PubMed Google Scholar 
  25. 25.Alfano ACC, Paiva CE, Rugno FC, da Silva RH, Paiva BSR. Biologically based therapies are commonly self-prescribed by Brazilian women for the treatment of advanced breast cancer or its symptoms. Support Care in Cancer. 2014;22:1303–11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-013-2087-x.Article Google Scholar 
  26. 26.Kokavec A. Community-based psychosocial education can improve mood disturbance in breast cancer survivors at various stages of their recovery. Behav Cogn Psychother. 2016;44:730–6. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1352465816000187.Article PubMed Google Scholar 
  27. 27.Kim HJ, Yang Y, Oh JG, Oh S, Choi H, Kim K, et al. Effectiveness of a community-based multidomain cognitive intervention program in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2016;16:191–9. https://doi.org/10.1111/ggi.12453.Article PubMed Google Scholar 
  28. 28.Mandić-Gajić G. Group art therapy as adjunct therapy for the treatment of schizophrenic patients in day hospital. Vojnosanit Pregl. 2013;70:1065–9. https://doi.org/10.2298/VSP1311065M.Article Google Scholar 
  29. 29.Hamre HJ, Kiene H, Glockmann A, Ziegler R, Kienle GS. Long-term outcomes of anthroposophic treatment for chronic disease: a four-year follow-up analysis of 1510 patients from a prospective observational study in routine outpatient settings. BMC Res Notes. 2013;6:1–13. https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-0500-6-269.Article Google Scholar 
  30. 30.McCabe C, Roche D, Hegarty F, McCann S. ‘Open window’: a randomized trial of the effect of new media art using a virtual window on quality of life in patients’ experiencing stem cell transplantation. Psycho-Oncology. 2013;22:330–7. https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.2093.Article PubMed Google Scholar 
  31. 31.Armstrong VG, Howatson R. Parent-infant art psychotherapy: a creative dyadic approach to early intervention. Infant Ment Health J. 2015;36:213–22. https://doi.org/10.1002/imhj.21504.Article Google Scholar 
  32. 32.Rawtaer I, Mahendran R, Yu J, Fam J, Feng L, Kua EH. Psychosocial interventions with art, music, tai chi and mindfulness for subsyndromal depression and anxiety in older adults: a naturalistic study in Singapore. Asia Pac Psychiatry. 2015;7:240–50. https://doi.org/10.1111/appy.12201.Article PubMed Google Scholar 
  33. 33.Jani N, Vu L, Kay L, Habtamu K, Kalibala S. Reducing HIV-related risk and mental health problems through a client-centered psychosocial intervention for vulnerable adolescents in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia J Int AIDS Soc. 2016;19:1–7. https://doi.org/10.7448/IAS.19.5.20832.Article Google Scholar 
  34. 34.Oklan AM, Henderson SJ. Treating inhalant abuse in adolescence: a recorded music expressive arts intervention. Psychomusicology. 2014;24:231–7. https://doi.org/10.1037/pmu0000058.Article Google Scholar 
  35. 35.Lombroso C. L’uomo di genio in rapporto alla psichiatria, alla storia ed all’estetica. 4th ed. Fratelli Bocca: Turin; 1888.Google Scholar 
  36. 36.Lippin RA. Arts medicine a call for a new medical specialty. Arts Psychother. 1985;12:147–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/0197-4556(85)90013-9.Article Google Scholar 

Download references

Source: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11126-019-09672-x

, ,

  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: